Muhammad bin Qasim was a Syrian Arab born in 695 AC. His father died, when he was young, leaving Qasim’s mother in charge of his education. The Umayyad Governor Al-Hajjaj Bin Yusuf, a close relative of Qasim, was instrumental in teaching Qasim about warfare and governing.
In 712 AC, at the age of seventeen, he was sent by Hajjaj Bin Yusuf on the orders of Caliph Al-Walid to lead an army towards India, into a powerful state known today as the Sind and Punjab areas of Pakistan. Raja Dahir, the ruler of this state, was very arrogant and unjust. He had given shelter to a number of rebels against Islam and the Caliph. His army looted Muslim traders and took into custody their children and women. In the past, the Umayyad Caliph in Damascus had sent two expeditions to rid the people of this tyrant. But both times the expeditions had failed, and Raja Dahir’s atrocities continued to increase.
Muhammad Bin Qasim’s army of six thousand men was small, whereas the opposing army consisted of more than a hundred thousand men fully equipped with war elephants and an array of excellent archers. Raja Dahir’s usual tactics were to shut himself inside the invincible walls of Daybul, the capital city, and let the enemy exhaust itself and retreat, once all its arms and ammunitions were depleted.
Muhammad Bin Qasim and his army fought hard against all odds and within a short time managed to win eleven battles. They had two unique weapons of that time – a huge catapult and a fire ball. The former rained stones, while the latter fired on the enemy. The Muslim victory at Daybul is ascribed to the giant catapult named Uroos. A stone hurled by Uroos brought down the flag flying atop the biggest temple in the city. The besieged considered this to be a bad omen, came out into the open, and were captured by Qasim’s army.
After capturing Daybul, Muhammad Bin Qasim marched on and conquered numerous parts of the sub-continent, hence purging it of many Hindu tyrants and oppressors. He then proved his administrative skills by being a wise and just ruler for that state for almost two years. He was admired by both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
After the death of Caliph Al-Walid, Muhammad Bin Qasim was called back by the new Caliph to Baghdad. The new Caliph was a cruel man, who became known for his harsh treatment of many famous Muslim generals and honorable persons, on the basis of personal enmity. He falsely accused Muhammad Bin Qasim of treason and put him in jail, where he was severely tortured, until he passed away at the age of twenty.
The success of the Muslim army was due to Muhammad Bin Qasim’s superior military leadership. The foundation of an Islamic State in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent was laid by this youngest conqueror in the world. His death was a great loss for all Muslims. He was greatly respected for his courage, determination, war tactics, and discipline. He was equally successful both in active warfare and in the times of peace.
Till today, Muhammad Bin Qasim is remembered and praised for the military exploits against the most formidable forces of the sub-continent. His victories form the golden chapters of the warfare history.